While long time readers of the blog are very familiar with my mare, Carina, I also have two other horses are well. Today, my sweet little Goose is getting his time in the spotlight, cliché post title and all.
Goose waltzed into my life in June of 2020. A good friend rescued him from a horrible situation in hopes of having him be a good lead line pony for her nephew. But, like many rescues, he had a lot of health problems going on. Severely underweight, wormy, and riddled with summer sores, saying he was in rough shape was an understatement. She did her absolute best to get him healthy and he was doing really well, however, his summer sores just would not let up. So, she shot me a text to ask if I could bring him north to me in Kentucky and of course I said yes. How could you say no to a face like that?
After a quick post on Facebook, I secured him a ride from Wellington to Lexington (shoutout to Katie & her mare Elona for sharing the trailer with him!). And so, on June 3rd, Goosey finally got to call Kentucky home. He was still under ideal weight and his sores were horrible, but otherwise he was healthy. Given a little bit of time and days spent out on the lush bluegrass, his weight came up to be perfect. Muscle was still lacking because he was in no condition to do real, buildable work, but overall, his body condition was wonderful.
Even though everything else was going right, his summer sores persisted. The backs of his knees were fully exposed tissue and he had baseball & softball sized growths along his coronary bands. Despite criticism I may receive for sharing these photos, I think it’s important that as I share Goose & I’s story, that you are able to visualize the magnitude that his issues were at.
*GRAPHIC PHOTO AHEAD WARNING*
I tried treatment after treatment. Worming him like clockwork, medicated bathes daily, wrapping and drying out the wounds in an effort to get them to heal, and more. Eventually, the progress started to be seen through shrinkage of the sores on his feet and production of new skin on his knees.
*SLIGHTLY GRAPHIC PHOTOS AHEAD*
Keeping with the system that I found worked best for him, by October, everything but the sore on his right front had healed up. It held out all winter at the same size, about the same at the tip of an average thumb. Even through most of the spring, it stayed small and seemingly harmless, it wasn’t until the summer rolled around where things got hairy. Many horse people knew that 2021 was going to be particularly bad for the flies, and Kentucky was no exception to that. Very quickly, the sore grew larger and more agitated. Obviously I had my vet out and we decided to one final thing before we took drastic measures. And sadly, that didn’t work so we were finally faced with the fact he needed to have surgery.
Surgery was something I always knew was on the table, but it being a real thing that needed to happen was something I hadn’t quite prepared for. Over the course of the past year Goose had become my little baby, so the idea of him having to go under full anesthesia, risky in and of itself, terrified me. But my vet and our surgeon assured me that everything would be okay. So, we scheduled the procedure for removal and biopsy of the mass.
When we dropped him off at the clinic, I can only imagine it was what dropping your kiddo off for their first day of school feels like. They took him in while I gave the surgeon any information that they didn’t already have, and off I went to await their phone call that he was done. Eventually, I got the phone call that he made it out safe, sound, and a bit more inside information on what was going on under the skin. The sore went about 2.5″ into the coronary tissue so we were very glad to be able to remove it, as it wouldn’t ever have gone away on its own no matter what I tried. Both the internal and external sores were sent to the University of Kentucky lab for testing with the hopes of figuring out what was going on.
Upon his discharge from the vet, I opted for Goose to go to the Spy Coast Farm Rehab facility to make sure that he could jumpstart his healing in the best way possible. The staff on the farm was absolutely incredible from caring for him like he was their own to making sure that he was seen by the vet daily to make sure his healing was going according to plan. Because his sites couldn’t get wet, he was groomed daily and hand walked when the weather was too moist for him to go outside. Honestly, sending him to Spy Coast was the best thing I could have possibly done for him and I am forever grateful to them for all they did. Like come on, look at that healing!
30 days had gone by and the vet thought he was all set to go home; So off we went. But this is when things start to go a bit haywire. Pathology came back on the sore and though the external portion was a summer sore, the internal was a cancerous sarcoid. Not exactly the best news, but the surgeon believes he got it all out and we just have to keep an eye on it to not let it get out of hand again. On top of that, the first day I had him home, he ripped off his bandages and chewed of all of his new skin growth. Essentially, he undid all of the healing he did while at rehab. I will spare you these photos because they are a little more graphic than I am willing to share. If I’m being honest, when it happened, I was extremely upset. My team and I had put SO much time and effort into his recovery, just for it to all be ruined in an instant. While I don’t blame him, I’m sure something like that is itchy and uncomfortable, it was still disheartening to see. Working made it difficult to get out to the farm and wrap him twice, and even more than that if he tears a bandage off. But, with the help of my awesome barn owner Ryan & his girlfriend Jen, we bandaged him every day in his “space boots” until he was fully healed up again. Even if it took a lot of duct tape to keep them on. But, despite my frustration, exhaustion, and general sadness about the whole situation, he makes it worth it. He is always down for a cuddle and is there whenever I need him.
From there, I gave him 5 months to be a horse. Everything he went through meant he needed time to rest, recover, and just be healthy for once. If he wasn’t taking naps in his stall, you could find him just a stride or two behind Carina out in the field; Those two have become practically inseparable.
Come March, little man was ready to get to test the waters on whether he was going to be a real riding horse or keep on doing life as my pasture puff bestie. And my goodness did he blow me out of the water with what he could do! Once we nailed the whole steering thing, not wanting to run out the in-gate, and all the other basics, he was shaping up to be an amazingly fancy pony. After laying the foundation on the flat and him becoming a flatwork king, I was comfortable taking him over fences. Even with jumping, he was a rockstar that exceeding every expectation I had for him. So, when entries opened up for Split Rock at Kentucky Horse Park, I knew it was time for Goosey to make a show debut.
At this point, we shouldn’t be surprised that he yet again blew me away. He jumped around in a ring he had never schooled before, over fences more extravagant than he’d ever seen, and we only had a few rails with no time all weekend. Of course he looked absolutely adorable while he did it! I seriously could not have been more proud of this pony. Coming from where he did, to an A Circuit show pony is nothing less than impressive and while he didn’t make it all that easy, I am nothing short of honored to produce him into the extraordinary horse I know he is (if only he was 8 inches taller!).
Super excited for what’s to come in the future, hopefully without as many medical detours along the way. Stay tuned for updates 😉